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2 ways to improve the quality of your relationships

Daniel Goleman’s Four Components for Emotional Intelligence in Business

from NYT Education Life (7th April 2015)

Today we are considering the last, of Goleman’s recommendations for effective leadership in business. Along with self awareness, self management and empathy (without joining others in lack of resources), there are:

Relationship Skills:

  1. “Compelling communication: You put your points in persuasive, clear, ways so that people are motivated as well as clear about expectations.
  2. Team playing: People feel relaxed working with you. One sign: They laugh, easily around you” Goleman (2015).

Relationship skills is a shorthand name for the skills that facilitate useful initial interactions and enable them to develop into freely chosen, functional, mutually satisfying ongoing relationships. Just because you are assigned to work with someone does not preclude the possibility of choosing their company and vice versa.

If you are going to develop a relationship with someone in any context, first you have to make their acquaintance and engage and hold their unconscious attention. This is called establishing rapport with someone. Rapport is not just for first time encounters. Each time you interact with someone, including loved ones, friends and long time colleagues, you need to engage and hold their unconscious attention, preferably willingly on their part.

To engage and hold someone's, unconscious attention. This is called establishing rapport. Click To Tweet

Rapport, like empathy, is subject to widespread misunderstanding. It is defined in the previous paragraph, yet many people think rapport is liking and being liked by someone, getting on well with someone, reducing perceptible differences between people, being like (similar to) someone and sharing similar views on important subjects.These experiences may follow from engaging and holding someone’s unconscious attention, but not necessarily.

You can observe rapport in action if you watch people when they are engaged with each other. You will see entrainment of the parties’ rhythms with each other.These include movement, posture, gestures, breathing, voice patterns, rate of speech and sometimes rate of blinking. Certainly, rapport is often taught at this level, but this makes it harder work to learn than necessary and too specific to keep enough attention free for the matter under discussion. Does this sound familiar?

The common feature when people are engaged with each other is interest. This can be interest in the individual, interest in the conversation and/or interest in the topic of conversation. The greater the interest, the quicker and smoother the development of rapport.Thus one person can initiate rapport with someone by showing interest and engagement in their behaviour. Most of the time it will be reciprocated. Demonstration of interest is worth learning. The result may not be instant, but perseverance for a few minutes should free up the interaction making it more comfortable for both parties so interest becomes more natural.

You can create a frame for yourself to facilitate interest for the sake of developing rapport. If you are discussing a boring topic, for example, make a point of discovering your intention for having the conversation. When you find an intention frame that you find worthwhile, that can spark a genuine interest.

A bright but bored medical student started earning unacceptable grades one year. He was told to shape up or be sent down from university. He wanted to join a particular speciality in medicine, but found the course content irrelevant. He loved history and anthropology, so he created a frame for 20th century medical training that said: This is what they used to believe, now. With awareness of his intention and a frame that invited interest in the work, his grades improved markedly. In the fullness of time he became a specialist in his chosen field where he made radical and far reaching contributions.

When you establish rapport with topics and subjects as well as individual people and groups, learning flows with less effort and greater retention. Work becomes more interesting and less of a chore and colleagues can be friends. This is quality of life at work. Rapport enhances the quality of your attention and the quality of your attention enhances rapport.

In the longer term as interactions develop into relationships, rapport continues to be necessary and with application, becomes habitual. This is the underpinning relationship skill. If you go back and review Goleman’s evidence for relationship skills, you will find that he is describing evidence of rapport.

Emotional Intelligence And The Quality Of your Life

To close the series, here is another frame on rapport and by extension, on self awareness, self management and empathy. All of these qualities, skills and attributes, when practiced and in use can contribute to our own sense of wellbeing. When we feel welcome with the people in our lives, we have a better experience with them than if we are on guard or expect unhelpful consequences. This does not detract from our varying needs for time alone, be it five minutes or most of life. When we deal with people, if they are well disposed towards us, we tend to have a better time. This is my frame for agreeing with Goleman’s recommendations. It is not a homily about what should be done. It is a recommendation for increasing your own quality of life.

At my own happiest workplace as an employee, I stayed longer than in any other job I have had because of the people. I started as a casual and had amazingly welcoming experiences on my first two days. By the end of three weeks I had a permanent position, expedited by my manager. I continued to feel welcome and appreciated for the whole time I was there. I only left because Inspiritive was granted RTO status and needed more of my attention.

(Note: If you would like to learn more about Emotional Intelligence and NLP you can get a copy of  our latest Kindle book ‘AEGIS: Patterns for extending your reach in life, work & leisure’ by Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer. For only $4.99 here).

By Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer at INSPIRITIVE.

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Jules Collingwood

Jules Collingwood

Jules has been involved in training and coaching since the 1980s and brings a wealth of experience to her work. As well as training, she consults to business and senior management, where she specialises in systemic change and individual performance enhancement. She is a superb negotiator with highly developed skills in influential language patterns, which she uses to assist clients develop and achieve their plans. Jules also designs custom training programs for specific applications and is responsible for INSPIRITIVE's RTO compliance management and course accreditation.

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